Grass is greener for TFC

RYAN WOSLTAT, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 11:08 PM ET

The words of the day at Toronto FC training Tuesday were excitement and patience.

Excitement, because the club will finally play a home game on grass Thursday. Patience, because any side that brings in more than a half dozen new players in a span of three weeks should not be expected to be a well-oiled machine right away.

On the positive side, the new grass at BMO Field was pronounced good to go by the players.

TFC captain Dwayne De Rosario was in a great mood, exhorting the media horde to take in the smells of the natural pitch.

“Smells great,” he said after practising on it for the first time. “It’s just a different feel. To step on grass in my hometown, I can finally say: Soccer is here. To have a facility here like this, especially with grass, is first class.”

TFC director of soccer Mo Johnston and head coach Preki both said the grass would be great for the franchise both on and off the field.

“We all don’t like playing on Astroturf,” Johnston said. “In the past, we’ve had (prospective signings) in (but) once they see the Astroturf, they don’t want to play here. We had to spend $250,000 on grass for the Real Madrid (friendly). Now, you don’t have to do that.”

Preki said the grass would help cut down on nagging injuries and added that practising on grass all week one day, not currently possible at BMO, would be even better.

“Training on turf is difficult. We’re working on it,” he said.

Injured forward Chad Barrett, who might be able to make his season debut against the Philadelphia Union on Thursday, said the fans will notice a difference.

“You can read the skids, you can read everything. More than not, you pretty much know what’s going to happen,” he said. “It will be a whole lot easier (to keep the ball on the ground because it doesn’t bounce as high on grass) and I think you are going to see a lot better soccer.”

But, will the team be any better than it has been in its opening two losses?

It might help that the need for “Hi, My Name Is ...” ID stickers is lessening. TFC has brought in a host of new players of late — Latvian Raivis Hscanovics, Thornhill’s Adrian Cann and Russian Maksim Usanov being the most recent — and lack of familiarity likely played a role in its four-goal second-half letdown at New England on Sunday.

“We have almost a whole new team of players,” Barrett said. “We need to build some chemistry, build some trust.”

Added Preki: “For us, right now is almost like a pre-season. Now we are finally having 20, 21 or 22 guys in training and it’s going to take us a little bit of time to get a rhythm,” he said.

“Once we get everybody healthy and competing for the spots, that’s when I hope we’re going to peak.”

The coach said he is not frustrated, even though it appears he is behind the 8-ball, having to get everyone on the same page with two games already over with.

“ I’ve been very patient, very realistic,” Preki said. “I always said from Day 1: This is not a project that is going to happen overnight. This is going to take some time for us to build. We want to build something that is good for a long time, not good for a couple of games here and there.”

At least, the grass is ready to go.

ryan.wolstat@sunmedia.ca


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